Moceyawa fully mended and ambitious
Tauranga judoka fighting fit after injury
In 2016 Ana Moceyawa was sweeping her foot along the mat during her judo training just as she had done many times before.
The only difference this particular time, and the reason it is such a memorable session, is the snap she heard while doing it.
That snap was her leg breaking — an injury that mentally scarred her for about 18 months.
“It was an Olympic year too and all my mates were going to the [Rio] Olympics,” Moceyawa says.
“I was just real down, I couldn’t do anything.
“I was feeling sorry for myself.” She went and surrounded herself with family and, when she returned, her head coach at the Tauranga Judo Club, Kevin Kavanagh, sat her down, asked what she wanted to do and helped her come up with a training plan that would work for her.
Although she recovered from the injury physically, it wasn’t until the second half of 2017 that she was feeling confident again.
Slowly, but surely Moceyawa says she “came back stronger”.
There was a lot that went into her recovery and the support from her Tauranga Judo Club family was a big part of it.
“We really are respected here, you really are treated equal.”
“I’ve never seen so much focus,” Tauranga Judo Club president Blair Winders says of Moceyawa.
Now she trains two or three times a day depending on her strength and conditioning timetable at the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance and is back to training hard to achieve her goals.
She hopes to represent New Zealand in judo at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, when it will become a core sport. This is exciting news for Moceyawa, who hopes it will prompt more females to take up the sport.
The combat sport, which originated in Japan, develops selfdefence. Athletes throw their opponents from a standing position to the ground or pin them down with different techniques.
It’s a sport 29-year-old Moceyawa became interested in at the age of 10. Her knowledge was limited, with most of her exposure to martial arts coming from an appreciation of the movie classic,
“My friend took me to a competition and I thought the suits were cool,” Moceyawa says.
That competition was the South Island champs in Christchurch, where she grew up, and she joined up afterwards. Two weeks later she had entered her first competition, sparking a passion that obviously continues today.
And for good reason — she was good it.
“I did a competition and won without knowing,” she says of that first club competition.
“I liked the sense of winning, I guess from a young age I was competitive,” she said. “That’s why I stuck at it.” Learning to throw someone around was also an appealing factor of judo, Moceyawa says of the sport she describes as a gentle martial art. She says her brother and sister were also “very good” in the sport but they didn’t carry on.
In 2015 Moceyawa moved to Tauranga to increase her skills in both judo and wrestling, because it was closer to competitions in Auckland and to be able to have more female training partners.
She was keen to cross-train, something that was welcomed at the Tauranga Judo Club, and it turned out she excelled at that, too.
“I grew up doing judo. I did wrestling to help my judo.”
Judo wasn’t on the roster for the Commonwealth Games this year but Moceyawa was selected for the New Zealand wrestling team at the
Gold Coast Commonwealth games. This was just one of her many achievements in the sport.
She was the 2016 and 2017 Oceania champion and won a bronze medal in 2017 at the Commonwealth Championships in Johannesburg South Africa in wrestling’s under 57kg division.
And just last month, she scored a national wrestling title in the 63kg senior women division at a competition in Dunedin, which was followed by gold at the National Judo Championships in Christchurch at the end of October.
She has secured national titles in both sports for two years and she wants to retain them well beyond that.
Despite success in both sports, her first love is judo and she has big goals in the sport. At her age, she believes she is ready.
“I think I can go further in judo. “I’m a lot better than I was when I was 18.”
Tauranga Judo Club’s Ana Moceyawa in action.